The customs union is a protectionist racket

Donald Tusk

British Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted that the only way of passing her Brexit deal is with support from the opposition Labour Party, in comments that are likely to deepen the tensions on her own side of the political divide in the Britain.

The latest development comes after Mrs May has been unable to secure backing from the Commons for her withdrawal agreement with Brussels, even though this move could anger some Conservative members further and cause more a deeper party split.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on April 12 unless May can secure another delay from the European Union, which already agreed to postpone the Brexit day originally set for March 29.

After the UK Parliament has failed to do either over successive votes in the past months, "clear and substantial developments will be needed to convince us that another extension should be granted", Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger said in Bucharest on Saturday.

Ahead of a week in which she will go to Brussels seeking to secure a further delay to the UK's departure, the Prime Minister said: "The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the United Kingdom never leaving at all".

The Conservatives have only a small majority in the House of Commons and rely on the Democratic Unionist Party, a right-wing, pro-Brexit party from Northern Ireland, to win votes. It would mean letting the Brexit that the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that.

"We've set all that out".

However after several days of negotiations with Labour, its leader Jeremy Corbyn complained he had not "noticed any great change in the government's position so far".


He said the government had no red lines in the talks.

The prospect has angered many Conservatives, with prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg arguing: "If a long extension leaves us stuck in the European Union we should be as hard as possible".

Government minister Nadhim Zahawi issued a stark warning about the "seismic" changes to British politics that would be unleashed if the UK's delayed departure meant the elections went ahead.

"It is frustrating that we have not yet brought this process to a successful and orderly conclusion", May wrote in her letter requesting a deadline extension to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, which is comprised of the heads of states of EU members.

"None of us want no deal next week but we also want to avoid rolling extensions because that just adds to the uncertainty so perhaps a longer extension might make more sense", Varadkar told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

Mrs May has already obtained one extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process, postponing the date of Brexit from March 29 to April 12.

However, Mr Hammond insisted the talks are still ongoing.

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